The National River Rally 2010 kicks off Friday at Snowbird, featuring more than 70 workshops and discussions that will focus on everything from aquatic ecosystems to climate change and wetlands.

An event anchored by River Network, the conference also includes field trips and a "river heroes" banquet at which environmental protection leaders will be honored.

The emphasis of this year's rally is focusing on two themes: "bridge building strategies" for stronger connections to federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service and enhancing relationships with environmental advocacy groups that push for clean and abundant water.

On Saturday, the EPA's deputy assistant administrator over water will be the keynote speaker. A Yale University law school graduate, Nancy Stoner has an array of experience in using the Clean Water Act to protect rivers, lakes and coastal waters from contaminated storm water, sewer overflows, factory farms and other sources of water pollution.

While many of the presenters come from federal agencies, national organizations and state-specific river associations, a Sunday workshop will feature the results of a local, groundbreaking study that has looked at the effect of pharmaceuticals and personal care products on the aquatic environment.

Pioneered through the Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District's Michael Luers, the study sampled for the presence of endocrine disrupting compounds, which are natural or synthetic chemicals that interfere or mimic hormones responsible for growth and development of organisms.

Enough of those chemicals found in wastewater and discharged to streams can result in the "feminization" of male fish or the creation of "intersex" of frogs, which display characteristics of both sexes.

The river rally began as a low-key event in 1999 with a gathering of just 75 people from a handful of states and morphed into a nationally acclaimed event that draws participants from every state in the country.

This year's host location, Snowbird, has been touted to conference attendees because of the Wasatch Mountains serving as a backdrop, as well as Utah's 11,000 miles of rivers and streams and 147,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs.

The conference concludes Monday.

e-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com